While most Oscar attendees were judging Seth MacFarlane quips and Barbra Streisand's voice inside the Dolby Theatre, those in the know were up from their seats and doing what Hollywood does so well: having a drink.
At two intimate bars just outside the theater doors, a parade of Oscar presenters, nominee hopefuls and despondent losers gathered to raise a glass to a good year or simply to drink away the pain.
A few minutes after he lost the supporting actor Oscar to Christoph Waltz, Tommy Lee Jones could be seen at the bar, looking for all the world like he wanted a glass of wine. A minute later, a glass of Chardonnay materialized, and a look of relief crossed his face.
FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2013 | Winners
He didn't engage on his loss, but he did have a thought — sort of — about MacFarlane's dig that one goal of the night was to make Jones laugh. "I didn't think about it at all," the actor said, succinctly.
Across the room, Reese Witherspoon, fresh off a presenting stint, exhaled. "Did I do OK?" she asked as she nursed a vodka tonic. Reassured that she did, and told by an industry veteran that her husband, Jim Toth, looked especially good, she broke into a more relaxed smile and said playfully to her spouse, "Are you on your meds tonight?"
At one point, director and adapted screenplay nominee David O. Russell (for "Silver Linings Playbook") wandered out, looking relaxed though his categories hadn't been called yet. He received a big hug from Ryan Kavanaugh, the outspoken head of Relativity Media, which was behind Russell's last film, "The Fighter."
Oscars 2013: Nominee list | Red carpet | Highlights
Kavanaugh spent a few minutes holding forth to Rupert Murdoch about the News Corp. hacking scandal and other media matters. Murdoch alternately paid attention and rifled through an Oscar program.
On a TV above, more winners were called, then spirited backstage to meet the media. The bar began to fill up with more losers, relieved that it was over or disappointed their names weren't called. After losing best documentary to "Searching for Sugar Man," Jonathan Dana, an adviser on fellow nominee "The Invisible War," popped into the bar and quickly ordered a glass of champagne. He took a look around the room, glanced up at the TV, then said, "I guess I should have one more."
In the lobby earlier in the evening, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" star Dwight Henry said he had no desire to meet many of the people around him. Then, pausing, the actor, who also runs a New Orleans bakery, said: "Well, there is one. Wolfgang Puck. Because, you know, he's a comrade."
Not far away, Tom Bernard, the co-chief of Sony Pictures Classics, had a wry smile on his face as he watched the nominees. "I think the Oscars are spreading the love around tonight," he said. "Because, let's face it, no one Hollywood really loves anyone."
Oscars 2013: Backstage | Quotes | Best & Worst moments
Meanwhile, ordering a sparkling water, Focus Features chief James Schamus, who released Ang Lee's last film for which he won the director prize, "Brokeback Mountain," sought to offer a more Zen thought on the thinly concealed competitveness around him.
"I always tell nominees, 'If your life is full before the Oscars, it will still be full if you lose," he said. "And if you're a jerk, you'll still be a jerk when you win.'"
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